“The Conejo Valley Church of Christ seeks to be a thick intergenerational community of reciprocal love and grace, embodying the Christ-centered, Spirit-led character,
and durable unity of the church in times of harmony (Acts 2) and of discord (Acts 15).
When we genuinely belong to each other and are actively equipped for service, we can be God’s ongoing blessing (Genesis 12) in the Conejo Valley and beyond.”
Earlier this year, our elders announced a visioning process for the Conejo Church involving a team of church members representing various age and life stages. That team worked with church consultant Jon Mullican to draft a vision description for the next twenty years at the Conejo Church (see above). In this series of articles, we’re reflecting on the various phrases in the vision description. This week, I’ll be reflecting on “When we genuinely belong to each other and are actively equipped for service…”
“When we genuinely belong to each other” expands on our commitment to be “a thick community of reciprocal love and grace,” expressing our yearning to know and be known, to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven. In our consumer-driven society, we are used to receiving goods and services in exchange for payment. Sayings like “the customer is always right” convey the ethos of our exchanges, in which if we don’t get what we want, we take our business elsewhere. But when we genuinely belong to each other, “getting our way” and “demanding our rights” are subordinated to our commitments to each other. In the body of Christ, the ear can’t say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body.” And the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” When we genuinely belong to each other, we work at sticking together, we seek to talk things out when we’ve been hurt, we seek reconciliation, and we practice forgiveness.
“And are actively equipped for service” describes our understanding that the practices of the Christian life are “better caught than taught,” though teaching certainly has its place in the Church. Equipping gets at the idea of being prepared or enabled, suggesting that our faith is best learned “on the job,” in our everyday engagements with life. Mentoring relationships between believers, in which various Christian practices are modeled and emulated, are the most basic means of equipping others for service. Equipping also can take place in classes as helpers watch teachers work with students; at summer camps and Vacation Bible School where teen volunteers are coached by adult mentors; at small groups where experienced leaders provide emerging teachers the opportunity to practice and grow; in pastoral visits and Bible studies in which an experienced leader brings a mentee along to “learn the ropes.” The process of learning to follow Jesus more fully is best accomplished in equipping relationships based on trust and shared learning.
The life of faith brings us together in community and sends us forth in service and witness. Belonging meaningfully to each other as a family and being equipped by one another to serve in the world are important parts of our vision for the future.